Grameen Sansad: The Road to Rural Upliftment
Chandni aims to make the rural students educated beyond their bookish knowledge so as to be able to build a better future and take part in the issues concerning their livelihood.
A woman of wisdom and a person of passion, Ms. Chandni Ahuja is a budding name among social workers. Leading youth-run NGO by the name of Raindrops Foundation, and heading the Youth Outreach at Chanakya Policy Foundation, she has introduced some commendable initiatives among government primary schools while focusing on grass-root level. She is currently associated with social organizations and NGOs that are striving to build a better place, a better world for rural students. Working for youth engagement programs and the upliftment of disabled children, she has been associated with many local-level institutions and has mentored a number of initiatives in the field.
INITIATIVES ON GROUND
One of her brightest initiatives and brainchild is YOUTH PARLIAMENT and GRAMEEN SANSAD at the village level. Inspired by the MUN meetings and conferences held in private schools and in urban settings, she truly experienced the confidence and research-analytical skills that such activities provide to the students. For the holistic development of the children, it is therefore very essential that such initiatives take place at all levels. Yet the educational gap triggered by limitation of resources and financial strength causes the absence of such initiatives in the rural government schools. In a place where children are as energetic as those in urban cities, Ms. Chandni strongly felt the need for bringing such activities on the local level.
Youth Parliaments are known for their exposure, enthusiasm, and enlightening experiences. Realizing the urgency to organize such activities at the rural level, she joined hands with like-minded people and started her journey!
Her first ever Youth Parliament was in a village in Kanpur, UP. Been able to organize a handful of Chanakya Niti Youth Parliament Chapters earlier, she was determined and dedicated to work towards her agenda. With the launch of GRAMEEN SANSAD in 2018, she received a head start and began working willingly.
CHALLENGES and SURPRISING TRUTHS
Having studied from the country’s most reputed colleges, Lady Shri Ram College for Women, DU, she has also done her post graduation studies in the United Kingdom. Her vision and valour emerge out her values and indeed reflect on her work. In contrast to her education, the students gaining knowledge in the rural areas have little or no access to co-curricular activities.
Since her own schooling and further education had been pursued in an urban atmosphere, she was dubious of the rural students’ calibre. She thought that the children might not be able to perform and perceive the purpose of Grameen Sansad. Yet after organizing the event and witnessing the excellence that the rural students showcased, she was surprised to witness their speaking skills and overall experience and thereby could conclude that her myths were mere misconceptions and that what she and people like her believed was totally untrue. The strangeness also acted a factor that made the children uncomfortable
Apart from ideological challenges, language was a major barrier that, at first, was an obstacle. Yet after talking on casual and informal basis she was able to break the ice and the children could talk to her freely!
Surprisingly, the students had presented speeches on their own. Without even accessing digital resources like google, Wikipedia, etc., the students had prepared excellent speeches on political affairs.
From never getting the opportunity to see and witness a mic and its functioning to preparing well-spoken speeches with the help of the Grameen Pradhan and their acquaintances, the children had immensely done a great job and proves all myths wrong!
With the need to train such students to be able to form their opinions, comment on socio-political topics, and perform the various portfolios pertaining to diverse fields, media to politicians, etc. allotted to them, she confidently claims that such an initiative refines their soft-skills training and co-scholastic interests. It helps in influencing children to take active participation in policy-making process. They not only developed interest but also became furthermore curious in the proceedings of the Parliament and its functionality.
Presently, Ms. Chandni feels that until the youth of the country comes forth and actively gets involved in the political processes of the nation, the problems will remain as it is! Even if the youth from the urban areas join in the policy-making procedures, the rural students and rural youth also need to step ahead and take an active part. This is essential since living in an urban area often makes us detached from rural problems. One such problem that is heavily affecting the present, as well as the future of the children in rural settings, is the issue of moving from one place to another. As migrant workers and daily wage labourers, most students come from such backgrounds where parents have to look out for employment across the country. When the agricultural season is over, these families have to move to other places to look for work and income- yielding opportunities. This simply makes the children move along with their parents leading to the wastage of their whole academic sessions and perhaps their education.
More such tragic issues exist in the rural areas. Therefore, it is her strong belief that through the word of youth parliament, students as well as the youth of this country can address their problems, find solutions to them, and collectively grow and glow!
With the introduction of the New Education Policy 2020, she affirms that India is moving forward towards the betterment of the education system in the country. She also aims to make the rural students educated beyond their bookish knowledge so as to be able to build a better future and take part in the issues concerning their livelihood.
We congratulate people like Ms. Chandni Ahuja who work for the society and its future leaders!
“Alone we can do so little, together we can do so much!” – Hellen Keller
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